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Pastor's Corner: You are gifted

 


“80 percent of life is just showing up.”

In times of crisis, a friend’s simple presence is priceless. A child in a school production or sporting event will scan the crowd for a familiar face to cheer them on. Showing up matters. “Present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice,” Paul writes. It’s the biblical version of this quote, reminding believers of the importance of showing up for God.

We have to be people who embody what it means to live with Jesus Christ as our Lord, not anyone or anything else. Worship can be a place where we grapple with the concerns of our day and seek to understand what the will of God is in the midst of it. When we are transformed, we are able to be a true witness to the work of Jesus Christ.

A prominent image in Paul’s letters in that of Christ’s body — each part of the body is essential to the function of the whole. We are connected to one another through Christ, though our functions may be quite different from one another. Our part in the body connects us to all the other parts of Christ’s body, the church. We depend on one another to make the body function as it should. Instead of putting ourselves first, we recognize our place in the body of Christ, and live into that purpose and function with humility. So let’s be what we were made to be, without enviously comparing ourselves with each other or trying to be something we aren’t.

In his poignant paraphrase ‘The Message,” Eugene Peterson writes, “If you preach, just preach God’s message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.” (Romans 12: 6-8).

Do we, as the church, help people develop their spiritual giftedness? Most churches determine what needs to happen to keep the doors open, and then seek church members who can fill those needs. However, this approach no longer works. But what might happen if we refocused our energy toward developing the gifts that God has already placed among us, and then designed our ministry around that giftedness, instead of looking for the gifts we need to maintain the status quo? This approach focuses on the people — their gifts and passions and their sense of call and Christian vocation. The beauty of developing a gifts-based church is that all gifts can be used in many ways, but their purpose remains the building up of the church and the equipping of the saints for ministry.

Everything we do as Christians should work towards the ultimate vision of making disciples for the transformation of the world. By exercising the gifts that God has given us, we nurture faith and love for God, we reach new people, and we help to heal a broken world. Our gifts are the power God has given us to do ministry in this time and place.

Using our gifts isn’t just something we do when we feel like it. Serving Christ isn’t a hobby or a way to use our spare time to make us feel better about ourselves. Using our giftedness is how we follow Jesus. I have often thought that I would like to eliminate the word “volunteer” from church vocabularies. When we volunteer, it implies that we are using our discretionary time and energy in an optional activity. Following Jesus is a 24/7 endeavor that requires a completely transformed mindset: there’s nothing optional about being a disciple of Christ.

Remember, God has chosen you and equipped you for this task of discipleship. Let us be what we were made to be!

——

The Rev. Maggie Lewis

First Presbyterian Church, Havre

Chinook Presbyterian Church

 

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